New-York-based computer systems firm Bak USA has won the contract to provide hardware support for the One Water, Sanitation,
and Hygiene (WaSH) national programme in Ethiopia – sponsored by the African Development Bank. Bak USA will work in collaboration with Ethiopian consultancy GeoSAS to train government officials in the use of its systems.
WaSH is a targeted programme that falls under the government of Ethiopia’s larger Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), and is designed with the specific objective of generating access to water across the country alongside improving its overall sanitation levels.
Funded by the African Development Bank (ADB), the programme has four essential components, which includes the establishment of support systems, the development of the water supply in both rural and urban areas, efforts to develop and maintain minimum standards of hygiene, and capacity building for future maintenance.
In terms of scope, the programme is set to provide access to approximately 3 million people through the implementation of over 7,800 schemes across the country. Of the funds allocated to the project by the ADB, $2 million as now been deployed towards a contract to employ the services of Bak USA in collaboration with GeoSAS.
Bak USA is a computer development firm which differentiates itself through its devotion to handcrafting computers in urban USA rather than importing assembled systems from other countries. For the project, the firm is providing WaSH programme coordinators with tablets that will facilitate advanced data gathering.
Based on the project requirements, the specific inventory has been set at 4,000 “rugged seal tablets,” each with 8GB of RAM, nearly 260GB of storage, and Windows 10 as an operating system. The tablets will be distributed amongst the key coordinating agencies for the project, which include the Ministry of Water, Irrigation & Electricity, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Finance & Economic Cooperation.
In addition to providing the tablets, the firm is also tasked with capacity building and training of the government officials, primarily with respect to the operation of the tablets, the application of geospatial technology, and the utilisation of the technology to enhance accountability and efficiency.
For support with this training and capacity-building process, BakUSA will collaborate with Ethiopian geospatial analytical services and consulting firm GeoSAS. The firm specialises in offering analytic support for development projects, ranging from the planning phase through to the design, implementation, monitoring, and eventual evaluation of projects.
Commenting on the project, J.P.Bak, Chairman and CEO of Bak USA said, “The One WaSH National Programme is one of the world's largest nationwide approaches to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Working with the One WaSH Programme enables us to make a real-world impact in local communities, both from the standpoint of capacity-building with local government and job creation to support local families. This is an opportunity to see our mission to empower people and change lives become reality.”
As the government of Ethiopia looks to improve the country's overall infrastructure, it has increasingly adhered to a trend that is gaining popularity across Africa – employing the consulting industry for public sector development projects. Earlier this year, the government launched a request for proposals for support with the Melka Sedi Thermal Power Project.